My name is Cameron Gallagher and for 6 weeks during my transition year, me and my friend Kealan went to Rennes (Northern France) for a French learning experience in November. I am over here 2 weeks now and I’m beginning to settle in with the help of my host family and new friends in the boarding house.
On Saturday, Kealan and I embarked on our exchange to Northern France not knowing what to expect. We were a bit nervous in the airport but very excited to get to our final destination, Rennes , which included a short layover in Paris CDG. When we arrived, Kealan and I were greeted by our host families. We were both so relieved because at that point we knew we would be in very good hands while here in France.
My host family’s house is in central Rennes and also very close to my school. The family has four children and two of them go to school with me. The youngest, Corentin (14), has actually been to Ireland twice on exchanges similar to the one I am doing. He is very welcoming and helpful to me as he knows what I am going through during the early stages of the learning experience.
At the dinner table I have good conversation with everyone especially my host brother Mathieu because we chat about sports. For my first weekend in Rennes, my host family brought me on small a tour around the city…on bicycles! This was a great introduction to the beautiful city. I was shown the best places to eat and shop as well as how to use the public transport to get around Rennes, and most importantly where the rugby ground was!
The school is very large and has a lot more students than Kealan and I are used too. We were put into separate classes although this was fine as we knew it would help us improve our French. Luckily, the students in my class were very kind to me which helped me fit in as smooth as possible.
We found it’s important to try and talk to as many people as possible on the first couple of days even when the language barrier proved very difficult. The first week would be important to show others that we were trying to make an effort to fit in and they respected us a lot more for this.
We have permeance every evening from 5.30 – 7pm and this is where we attempt to do the homework. This means doing about half a page if the class is given a two page assignment and then read some of the easier French novels given to us by our teachers. On Friday I had to do a small presentation in my biology class. I did my best and the teacher gave me a 12 out of 15 for my efforts so I was delighted with that. We tried to make our schedules as busy as possible this week. I liked the movie night which happens every Thursday. Even though it’s all in French we are well able to get the gist of it, especially when it’s a horror movie!
On the weekend my host family brought Kealan and I to the famous Mont Saint Michel that is an hour away from Rennes and the views were very cool. We were brought on tours around the small town and the chapel which is built on the top of the rock. Despite it being filled with tourists it was still very nice to go and see.
This week Kealan and I are now very much settled into the swing of things. The dormitory itself is a great laugh and there is a great bunch of lads who stay with us. I was surprised at how similar the whole environment was to boarding life back in Ireland as Kealan and I board in our school at home too. I’ve become a lot friendlier with my roommate Alex in the second week, we share the same interests and even meet up on the weekends. Tonight is a Friday and I’m back in my host family’s house after the busy week.
To be honest, I am absolutely shattered and will leave it here!
So far all is going superb and Kealan and I are very happy here.